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29 Aug, 2019 11:16

‘Kashmir was never yours, so why cry about it?’ Indian defense chief asks Pakistan

‘Kashmir was never yours, so why cry about it?’ Indian defense chief asks Pakistan

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said that disputed Kashmir has “always” belonged to India. His words came amid a renewed spat with Pakistan, triggered by New Delhi ending Kashmir’s autonomy.

“I want to ask Pakistan why it always keeps crying over Kashmir when it was never its part,” Singh said at a defense-themed meeting on Thursday, as cited by India Today. The minister made his comments during a trip to the city of Leh in the Ladakh region, which was part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, until New Delhi ended its decades-old autonomy earlier this month.

Kashmir has always been part of India.

The government, formed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), insists that stripping Kashmir of its self-governing status will help curb terrorism and lead to more economic development. The change, however, severely angered India’s long-standing rival, Pakistan, which claims the whole of Kashmir as its territory and says New Delhi has no right to unilaterally alter its status.

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Islamabad cut all trade ties with India and appealed to the UN, warning of possible massacres in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. Pakistani officials also blasted the curfew-like crackdown in the region, which India claims is necessary to protect its residents.

“India wants to have a good neighborly relationship with Pakistan,” Singh said, adding that Islamabad “should first stop exporting terror to India.” Indian politicians have long accused Pakistan of fomenting an Islamist insurgency against its troops and helping terrorists. Pakistan strongly denies this.

The neighbors almost went to war in February. India launched an air raid into Pakistan, targeting what it said were camps of terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which carried out attacks on Indian soil. Pakistan accused India of violating its sovereignty, and hostilities escalated into cross-border shelling and open aerial combat.

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An Indian pilot was shot down in Pakistani airspace during the clashes and, after a brief period of captivity, he was returned by Pakistan unharmed. Both sides exchanged several friendly gestures in the following months but the hope for reconciliation was once again eclipsed by the renewed tensions in Kashmir.

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